Bentley and Pointools sign continuous technology transfer agreement to incorporate Vortex engine in Bentley platform

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Bentley Systems, Incorporated, the leading company dedicated to providing comprehensive software solutions for the infrastructure that sustains our world, today announced at this invitation-only gathering of top users from around the globe that it has entered into a technology agreement with Pointools Ltd., the leader in high-performance software to exploit point clouds captured by 3D laser scanning of infrastructure assets, including aerial LiDAR surveys. Through this agreement, Bentley has licensed Pointools’ super-fast Vortex API engine (and its ongoing upgrades) for incorporation in MicroStation and all other software products that leverage Bentley’s platform technology.

The Pointools engine is ideally suited to the demanding requirements of architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) projects due to its unrivalled ability to handle the very largest point cloud datasets, comprising billions (not millions) of points, and from virtually every scanning source. Through Bentley’s ProjectWise collaboration servers, AEC projects and owner-operators will now be able to interoperably manage, reference, and maintain point cloud content, for continued lifecycle value. 

Commenting on the new agreement, Faraz Ravi, Pointools founder and director, said, “Bentley put us through a rigorous comparison test and selected us because of our industry-leading performance. By virtue of this, and our distinguishing interoperability, we’re proud that Pointools is the technology of choice for sales staff demonstrating most available scanning hardware, because they know point clouds always look best and load fastest in the Pointools environment. Our R&D team is enjoying working with our counterparts at Bentley to prioritize the software developments that will serve, I believe, to rapidly ‘mainstream’ the contributions of point clouds to most significant projects.”

Bentley Systems CEO Greg Bentley added, “AEC workflows have to date been in the early stages of leveraging laser scanning. With hardware capacity increasing by a factor of 10 in the last 12 months alone, software has been the constraining factor in realizing the potential value of point clouds – and I believe the Bentley/Pointools agreement represents the needed breakthrough. Now that MicroStation users will be able to seamlessly reference point clouds, and efficiently manage their content and provenance through ProjectWise, I expect innovations in every infrastructure application domain, to leverage point cloud “models” of existing conditions for improved lifecycle performance. Faraz and his colleagues have dedicated themselves to continuously reinventing the software engineering required for diverse point cloud datasets of burgeoning scale and quality, and our confidence in their continued success made Pointools the natural choice for this important Bentley priority.”

The Pointools Vortex engine – in the same respect as the versatile and powerful Parasolid modeling engine already incorporated in MicroStation – will allow users to uniquely reference and geospatially coordinate point cloud files within the context of vector geometry and raster data. Unlike the disjoint software approaches currently available, the Pointools engine will be integral to MicroStation and other Bentley applications, enabling users to overcome the limitations associated with temporary, stand-alone, unmanaged point cloud use, which have impeded its adoption.

Bentley Systems CTO Keith Bentley said, “In everything we do at Bentley we are driving to enable information reuse through interoperability, improving our users’ ROI. While no one has yet figured out all of the use cases for point cloud models in our portfolio of applications, one thing is clear: by licensing the fastest and most capable engine, the interoperability and scalability opportunities afforded to us and our software users are endless.”

The Pointools Vortex API engine is fully embeddable to enable all host software to utilize point cloud data captured from a range of instruments within 3D graphical environments. Some of the ways in which this new capability can be used include loading, display, analysis, and extraction of points. The Pointools engine is highly scalable – being able to open and display clouds of billions of points by referencing multiple files at the same time. In addition to storing the positional information, the Pointools file format (POD) can also capture the reflective intensity and RGB values of scanned subjects, enabling users to visualize their point cloud models with true colors for increased contextual realism.

The POD file has been extended to retain key information pertaining to the origin of the point cloud data including scanner type, original scan file name, scan date, scan location, and scan keywords. This valuable information can be indexed and searched by project teams to more quickly locate models when managed in Bentley’s ProjectWise collaboration system. In addition, in its role as the unique solution for the “big file problem” for distributed teams, ProjectWise file caching servers will accelerate distributed team access to these enormous point cloud files.

As a result of this increased realism, performance, and content management, owner-operators can finally fulfill their aspiration to scan, retain, and reuse as-built models, even for operating assets, rather than merely those under redesign or construction. And with the existing infrastructure landscape regularly recorded in “pixel carpets,” designers will be able to rely upon “just-in-time” feature recognition and transformation of discrete parts of the point cloud models, to optimize design workflows and maximize information reuse.

The Pointools Vortex engine not only boasts the best performance available for displaying point cloud geometry, but is also distinguished in versatility – being able to display point clouds from vendors including Leica, FARO, Topcon, Riegl, and TerraScan, to name just a few.

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